IMLS Provides $4.3 Million for Early Learning Projects

October 29, 2013
 
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 IMLS logo Campaign for Grade-Level Reading logo

 

IMLS Contact
Giuliana Bullard, 202-653-4799
gbullard@imls.gov

 

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Contact
Phyllis Jordan, 301-656-0348
pjordan@thehatchergroup.com

 

IMLS Provides $4.3 Million for Early Learning Projects

Museums and Libraries will address school readiness and summer reading loss

Washington, DC – Learning opportunities in the early years are critical for school success, yet many children, especially those from low-income families, don’t have these opportunities for a strong start in school. Museums and libraries are stepping up to address this national issue. With a presence in nearly every American community, these trusted institutions expand early learning opportunities for all children, especially for our most vulnerable.

To support this emerging role, the Institute of Museum and Library Services is awarding $4,329,567 in grants to 20 museums and libraries in 17 communities. The projects range from developing a mobile app for parents in Philadelphia to creating comic books with kids in Brooklyn, from home visiting with young families in Columbus, Ohio, to training new librarians in Denver about early learning.

These projects, many of them involving partnerships with community organizations, further the goals of IMLS and its partner, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states, and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school. It is working with 134 communities to improve school readiness, fight chronic absence, and reduce the summer slide in an effort to improve reading proficiency by third grade, a key predictor of school success. Last year IMLS awarded more than $2.5 million for early learning grants.

IMLS and the GLR Campaign published the nation’s first look at museums and libraries as early learning community resources, entitled Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners. The report identifies 10 key ways these institutions support young children’s learning, showcases examples of impactful early learning projects, and calls upon policymakers, practitioners, and parents to make full use of the nation’s network of 17,500 museums and 123,000 libraries.

“Providing support for early learning in museums and libraries is a priority for IMLS,” said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “We urge policymakers, communities, and schools to tap to into the unique resources of libraries and museums and incorporate them into community-based initiatives. With their rich collections and exhibits, museums and libraries provide personalized, experiential, and discipline-focused learning opportunities. This is just the type of learning now regarded as essential for building the language, cognitive, and social tools children need for a strong start in school.”

Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the GLR Campaign, applauded the federal agency's leadership in encouraging museums and libraries across the country to help ensure that young children develop the literacy skills essential to succeed in school and beyond. "We know that literacy must be nurtured from birth and that schools can't do this alone,” Smith said. “Parents, caregivers and the broader community have vital roles to play. And trusted community institutions are ideally situated to rally those efforts and provide the services, tools and supports to make sure that every child has a chance to learn to read well. IMLS' efforts to advance this cause puts it among the Campaign's most valued partners."

The awarded grants are listed below.

Please Touch Museum—Philadelphia, PA
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $102,484

The Please Touch Museum will use its grant to develop an interactive mobile communications application and website that will serve as a tool to support families through the kindergarten transition years. The mobile application will translate existing resource literature and tools, such as a readiness checklist, activity calendar, and parent-child activities into a digital format. A website, containing the same components as the mobile application, will be created to ensure the resources reach the widest audience possible. The project will establish and work with a network of partners in the Philadelphia area to help determine which resources will best benefit users of the app and website.

Boston Children’s Museum—Boston, MA
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $147,424

The Boston Children’s Museum will partner with the Boston Public School’s Office of English Language Learners and the Building Educated Leaders for Life program to implement a Summer Club to prevent summer learning loss. The program’s three-part family engagement includes: 1) informing parents about summer learning and school success opportunities at the museum and from community partners; 2) a five-week Friday night family summer camp with museum-based learning activities for immigrant children and their parents; and 3) an evaluation component of the impact of family engagement on summer learning. The museum will develop the Summer Club curriculum, train and supervise Teen Ambassadors for Summer Club students and other young visitors, and offer bilingual Parent Ambassador Hosts, guest speakers, and summer learning resources to facilitate parent learning and sharing.

New England Aquarium—Boston, MA
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $149,863

The New England Aquarium will create a program called Connecting to Oceans, which will help kindergarten through third graders develop science and literacy skills, using live animals and the exploration of outdoor habitats. Partnering with community-based organizations who are already serving these children in out-of-school programs, Connecting to Oceans will provide ocean science content with a focus on literacy skills. Each community-based organization will be matched with a dedicated aquarium educator and a teen intern from the inner city. Over the three-year grant period, more than 300 five- to-eight-year-olds will participate in an estimated 162 learning experiences during the school year and 54 summer program days.

Bronx Zoo—Bronx, NY
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $117,139

The Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo will redesign, update, expand, and digitize its Pablo Python K-3 curriculum toolkit for early learners, teachers, and parents. The project will add interactive online components, and make the toolkit available across all digital platforms, including the zoo’s website, social media, email, and YouTube. The zoo’s new digital education resources will be designed to increase knowledge about animals and appreciation of nature, deepening audience engagement with science and conservation. The museum will collect baseline audience data; work with technology consultants to create, test, refine, and launch new digital products; and measure their impact and effectiveness. The resulting suite of digital learning products will include a microsite for digitized education resources, fieldtrip preparation kits, and videos and games for early learners. The project will bring new science and literacy learning resources to key audiences at five New York City wildlife parks.

Port Discovery Children’s Museum—Baltimore, MD
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $150,000

The Port Discovery Children’s Museum will design, fabricate, install, and promote a new exhibit that explores agriculture through themes of science and technology, history, local ecology, global economy, and art. The “Here We Grow” exhibit will be rich in words, ideas, images, sounds, and interactive elements to support diverse learning styles; build school readiness skills; promote self-directed and multi-generational learning; and help children develop logic, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills necessary for success in the 21st century. It will link to Maryland’s Social Studies and STEM curricula and help motivate students who have difficulty engaging in classroom settings. The museum will partner with Towson University to develop front-end, formative, and summative evaluation, with prototype exhibit elements being revised and finalized based on evaluation results. The museum will promote the exhibit to families and educators through a targeted marketing campaign, including public relations, social media, and outreach to schools, school districts, and teachers.

EdVenture—Columbia, SC
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $149,957

EdVenture will implement the “Yes, Every Child” program to improve museum accessibility and engagement for Hispanic/Latino families in the Columbia metropolitan area. The museum will build internal capacity including facility, staff/ staff skills, and community networks to better connect with and respond to the rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino community. The program will equip the museum to develop new and additional learning experiences for non-English speaking audiences. The museum will form an advisory group of trusted leaders within the Hispanic/Latino community to serve as cultural brokers. The advisory group will help guide efforts to develop focused outreach to and build relationships with Hispanic/Latino families with young children. These efforts will focus on developing programs to engage and sustain participation, enhance civic engagement, provide cultural and educational opportunities, and enable families to be full participants in their local community.

New England Aquarium—Boston, MA
Grant Program: Museums for America
Award Amount: $149,770

The New England Aquarium will launch a capacity building effort to reduce barriers for potential volunteers and increase leadership opportunities for some of its most capable existing volunteers. The Live Blue Service Initiative includes hands-on, engaging, episodic volunteer service opportunities; expanded community partnerships; and a volunteer leadership training program. To develop leadership among the current volunteers, aquarium staff will offer a training and engagement program for those who have exhibited the interest and capacity to become leaders. These Live Blue Service Leaders will help plan and execute the episodic service events. These will take place at the Aquarium and at partner organization sites and will include educational preparation around the environmental issues being addressed. Volunteers will share their experiences in the Aquarium, on its website and through social media, inspiring others to “live blue” to protect the oceans.

USS Constitution Museum—Boston, MA
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Museums
Award Amount: $280,623

The USS Constitution Museum (USSCM) will use its grant to identify characteristics of family programming that result in active intergenerational engagement, enjoyment, and learning in museums and libraries. A rigorous, iterative prototyping process at the USSCM and in libraries across Massachusetts will be followed by broad dissemination of the findings to museum and library professionals locally and nationally. The project seeks to create a robust yet flexible set of guidelines for creating genuine intergenerational learning experiences disseminated through workshops, online resources, conferences, and publications.

Hartford Public Library - Hartford, CT
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Planning Grants
Award Amount: $47,540

The Hartford Public Library, in collaboration with Hartford Public Schools and other community partners, will conduct two surveys and eight focus groups with teachers, parents, and caregivers to study why many families do not engage in summer learning. The information collected from these activities will create the framework for the “Summer Learning! Family Engagement Continuum.” The Hartford Public Library will analyze data to better understand the current landscape, identify potential solutions, and seek training to address identified challenges. The framework created through this planning grant will be a summer learning model, and the final report will be distributed to maximize community awareness of this need in the community. The final project will offer comprehensive summer learning services to the community in addition to year-round resources that will help facilitate families learning together.

Public Library Association - Chicago, IL
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Research
Award Amount: $499,741

The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children, divisions of the American Library Association will support a three-year project to conduct research that will examine how library programming about early literacy development affects parent behavior and engagement. Through the support of parent-focused early literacy services and programs, public libraries can play a key role in helping children become ready to read and be ready for school. However, the research demonstrating the impact of parent education programming at public libraries has not been undertaken. “Bringing Home Early Literacy: Determining the Impact of Library Programming on Parent Behavior,” will determine whether parents or caregivers who engage in early literacy practices with their children help them develop the early literacy skills they need to be ready to read.

University of Maine - Orono, ME
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Planning Grants
Award Amount: $49,922

The University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library and College of Education and Human Development, with the Old Town Elementary School and Old Town Public Library, will use this grant to support the planning of three informational text kit sets (20 – 30 kits per set) that will become long-term support for early literacy in Maine. This planning grant will evaluate and develop how libraries can work together to support literacy from birth to age eight and address the challenges of school readiness and summer reading loss. Once created, the kits will act as a model for other libraries to address early literacy challenges. The project will support training on the kits, early literacy knowledge, promoting their use with parents, and the criteria for crafting new kits in the future.

Pueblo of Santa Clara - Espanola, NM
Grant Program: Native American Library Services
Program Category: Enhancement Grants
Award Amount: $138,741

The Pueblo of Santa Clara’s Community Library will continue its important role as a community anchor in fostering 21st century learning and information use with a range of interactive projects that will engage community members of all ages. Technology Access Nights will foster responsible technology use and awareness among young learners and their families, especially promoting safe social media practices. For hands-on technology learning, youth, elders, and their families will collaborate on two oral history projects. One will gather stories of Santa Clara Pueblo women’s achievements and cultural endurance, and the other will document strategies for academic success. Also, a youth mentor/internship initiative will create a cadre of “Bookworm Interns” trained in the Every Child Ready to Read Program®, allowing the interns to practice their new skills during the Summer Reading Program, which will be extended from one to five weeks.

Brooklyn Public Library - Brooklyn, NY
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Demonstration
Award Amount: $221,308

The Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority and the Center for Educational Pathways, will implement “Read! Write! Create!” a literacy program focused on comic book creation, which targets families with children between the ages five and nine who reside in three public housing developments and the surrounding low-income neighborhoods. The program, which supports the goals of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading and addresses literacy skills in New York State’s Common Core Learning Standards, will reach 600 children and their caregivers over two years through a series of drop-in workshops. Dissemination to the profession will extend the project’s benefits to additional communities.

Columbus Metropolitan Library - Columbus, OH
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Demonstration
Award Amount: $249,727

Columbus Metropolitan Library, in partnership with Learn4Life and Columbus City Schools, will participate in the Supporting Partnerships to Ensure Ready Kids (SPARK) program, a home visitation program designed to increase high-risk children’s school readiness and parents’ effectiveness as learning advocates for their students. The project’s service area is west Columbus, which has some of the highest poverty rates and lowest standardized test scores in central Ohio. Family activities will aid in the development of children’s reading, language, and social skills and will link families to other service providers that can improve children’s health and wellbeing so that they can enter school ready to learn.

Providence Community Library - Providence, RI
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Demonstration
Award Amount: $250,000

The Providence Community Library will partner with Ready to Learn Providence on “Ready for K!” a school readiness program designed to reduce the achievement gap for children who are entering kindergarten and have not participated in formal early learning programs. Major project components include professional development for children’s librarians and family literacy programming, including the creation of literacy kits with books and activities. The project will help ensure that students enter kindergarten ready to learn and will demonstrate the library’s important role as a partner in meeting this essential community need.

College of Menominee Nation - Keshena, WI
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Demonstration
Award Amount: $100,000

This award to the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, together with an additional award of $92,466 to the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison (SLIS), will support a collaborative project to address early learning. SLIS is has deep knowledge of early learning research and CMS has deep expertise in knowing what works best for people who are impoverished and have low literacy. As partners, they will build on this foundation to develop a model for early literacy programs, especially for rural, Native American communities.

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System - Madison, WI
Grant Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Program Category: Planning Grants
Award Amount: $92,466

This award to the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison (SLIS), together with an additional award of $100,000 to the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) will support a collaborative project to address early learning. SLIS is has deep knowledge of early learning research and CMS has deep expertise in knowing what works best for people who are impoverished and have low literacy. As partners, they will build on this foundation to develop a model for early literacy programs, especially for rural, Native American communities.

Texas Woman's University - Denton, TX
Grant Program: Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program
Award Amount: $469,999

Texas Woman's University School of Library and Information Studies, and its partners, the Texas Library Association, and the Dallas Public Library, will recruit and educate 18 librarians specializing in early literacy with cultural sensitivity and competencies to provide library services for communities with underrepresented populations. This project seeks to increase the pool of librarians who can work with the children of low-income populations to nurture the love of reading and the early literacy skills critical to lifelong success.

University of Houston - Clear Lake - Houston, TX
Grant Program: Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program
Amount: $463,857

The University of Houston - Clear Lake's (UHCL) School Library and Information Science program will use its grant to recruit 15 teachers and educate them in a master’s program focused on emerging readers (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten). The project will increase the number of certified school librarians in Texas, particularly those who work with Hispanic populations; create a model program for educating school librarians in early childhood literacy through collaborations with the UHCL Early Childhood Program and field-based educational experiences; and establish professional development workshops and seminars for those already working in the field.

University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education - Denver, CO
Grant Program: Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program
Award Amount:$499,006
 
The University of Denver Library and Information Science Program and its partners will use their grant to fund the Early Childhood Librarianship program, which is designed to increase the number of MLIS-degreed librarians who are prepared to serve the early literacy needs of very young children (0-5 years), caregivers, educators, and community coalitions. Almost all scholastic achievement is based on early literacy skills, and many young children face substantial obstacles in acquiring these skills. In this program twenty scholarship recipients will study brain research, child development, and Spanish language, among other topics.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Through grant making, policy development, and research, we help communities and individuals thrive through broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning. To learn more about IMLS, please visit www.imls.gov.

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The GLR Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade. For more information, visit www.gradelevelreading.net.